Features of Disability Accessible Apartments

Even before you enter one, it’s easy to determine the basic features of an apartment: living area, kitchen space, bathroom, and a closet or two. But when an apartment includes features for disabled persons or the elderly, knowing what to expect is a challenge. Not all disability accessible apartments are the same.

Features of Disability Accessible Apartments

The U.S. Fair Housing Act

The U.S. Fair Housing Act has seven basic design and construction requirements for most accessible apartments:

  1. An accessible building entrance on an accessible route
  2. Accessible common and public use areas
  3. Doors usable by a person in a wheelchair
  4. An accessible path into and through the dwelling unit
  5. Light switches, electrical outlets, thermostats, and other environmental controls in accessible locations
  6. Reinforced walls in bathrooms for later installation of grab bars
  7. Usable kitchens and bathrooms

Your specific needs and apartment features may vary, but this list is a good start when speaking to building managers about an available unit. It’s also vague— what’s a “usable” kitchen, anyway?—so here’s a rundown of some layout specifics for disability accessible apartments to aid in your apartment search.

Disability Accessible Hallways

Hallways should be 4 feet wide, with well-secured carpet or non-slip flooring. Light switches must be at an accessible height. “Non-slip” flooring includes hardwood, some ceramic tiles, and embossed sheet vinyl.

Disability Accessible Bathrooms

At least one bathroom should be located on the main floor. When apartment searching, this is pretty easy to find because few apartments offer multi-story dwelling. Other features to keep an eye out for:

  • The bathroom door must be no less than 34 inches wide and open outward, which prevents the door from taking up precious bathroom space.
  • There should be enough open space along one side of the toilet and the bathtub to improve maneuverability.

Disability Accessible Kitchens

Kitchens shaped like an “L” or “U” enhance accessibility, but don’t consider them deal-breakers. More important are continuous counters set at the same height and level as the cooktop or stove. The corners of all counters should be rounded for safety. The sink and cooktop should have knee space beneath them.

Disability Accessible Living Rooms

The main living area should not have a door, but should have a wheelchair-navigable threshold. That could be a subtle ramp, a threshold limited in height to about one-quarter inch, or no threshold at all.

And since we’re talking about the entrance, it’s also worth noting there should be a light switch at the entrance to the room. All light switches—not just the one at the entrance of the living area—should be accessible from a seated position.

Disability Accessible Bedrooms

The room should be large enough to accommodate a bed plus 5 ft x 5 ft of space for maneuverability, according to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Lighting, adjustable shelves, and hanger rods in the closet also improve the apartment bedroom’s accessibility for the disabled or elderly.

A useful search tool is the best feature!

Looking for a disability accessible apartment can be a stressful challenge. However, with the right amount of research and with help from online tools like ApartmentSearch, it’s possible to find the perfect disability accessible apartment.

Please note: This overview is for illustrative purposes only and is not intended to serve as a representation of legally-binding accessibility features. Please contact the ADA Information Line for more detailed information.

Additional Resources

A Beginner’s Guide to Exploring New York City
Moving to New York City? Here’s our quick and easy guide to living, getting around, and having fun in the heart of the empire state.
A Beginner’s Guide to Oklahoma City, OK
Moving to Oklahoma City? Use our quick and easy guide to living, getting around, and having fun in this southern metropolis.
A Beginner’s Guide To Philadelphia, PA
Moving to Philadelphia? Use our quick and easy guide to living, getting around, and having fun in this historic city.
A Beginner’s Guide To Phoenix, AZ
Moving to Phoenix, AZ? Use our quick and easy guide to living, getting around, and having fun in this event-filled city.
A Beginner’s Guide to Pittsburgh, PA
Moving to Pittsburgh, PA? Use our quick and easy guide to finding an apartment, getting around, and having fun in this historic city.
Advice for Moving to Sacramento, California
Take the stress out of moving to Sacramento with this helpful moving guide. Get tips for renting an apartment in Sacramento, enjoying the city and more!
Show More
Apartment Staging Tips
Staging a model apartment for renters to tour? Use our quick and easy guide to home staging for potential new tenants.
Student Furniture Rental
Want to outfit your new ApartmentSearch apartment with stylish, affordable furniture? Learn more about CORT’s rental furniture options.
The Benefits of CORT Furniture Rental for Military Members
Are you a military service member moving to a new home? CORT Furniture Rental is easy & convenient. Learn more!
What Is the CORT Personal Service Guarantee?
Renting furniture for your apartment? Choose a company that respects its clients. CORT Furniture Rental is dedicated to upholding its Personal Service Guarantee.
Why Rent Furniture Instead of Buying New?
"What's the advantage of furniture rental vs. buying new? Here are some situations in which renting furniture may make more sense for you.
5 Tips for Moving Apartments with Kids
Moving apartments can be hectic and exhausting. Add kids to the process and you’ve officially got a zoo on your hands. Make your big move as painless as possible with these FIVE tips for moving with kids, from ApartmentSearch!
A Guide to Apartment Lease Types
Don't know what type of apartment lease you need? ApartmentSearch goes over the different types of apartment leases to help you decide.
Apartment vs House: Which Should I Rent?
If you’re weighing the pros and cons of apartments vs. houses, ApartmentSearch can help! We'll walk you through the pros and cons of renting a house or apartment when it comes to cost, maintenance, flexibility, amenities, and lifestyle so that you can make the best choice for you.
Checklist for Moving to Another Country
Moving internationally? From figuring out furniture to getting health insurance, here's what you need to know to make your move as simple as possible.
Choose the Best Movers
It doesn’t matter if you’re moving for the first time or hopefully the last; if you don’t plan accordingly, relocation can be a logistical nightmare.
For Renters: Tenant Rights & Natural Disasters
What rights do tenants have after a natural disaster like a hurricane or flood? Find out if you're still responsible for paying rent, how renters insurance comes into play, and how you can make your next best move (aka find an apartment) with help from ApartmentSearch.
Show More

More Like This

15 Tips for Apartment Hurricane Preparedness
Hurricanes can be devastating for you and your apartment. Here are 15 tips for apartment hurricane preparedness to help you stay safe, with ApartmentSearch.
4 Apartment Mold Symptoms That Should Worry You
Your apartment should be the place that refreshes your body and mind after a long day, not a place that makes you cough, sneeze, and wish you were somewhere else. Follow along as we outline the top apartment mold symptoms and the steps to take if you believe you're dealing with a mold problem.
Apartment Fire Safety 101: What to Do Before & After
Don't find yourself without the right information in an emergency like an apartment fire. Learn how to prepare, prevent, and act after an apartment fire.
Apartment Parking Safety & Etiquette Tips
Don’t let apartment parking ruin your day! Read these quick tips and tricks from ApartmentSearch to stay safe and stay respectful in the parking lot.
Apartment Rental Application Process
Don’t sweat the apartment rental application process. Follow these pointers and get the apartment of your dreams, with ApartmentSearch.
Apartment Safety and Security
Feel safe in your own apartment by following these tips on apartment safety and security from ApartmentSearch.
show more
Apartment Safety Tips for Summer Vacations
Going on summer vacation? Make sure your apartment, pets, and car are safe by following these 12 apartment safety tips!
Earthquake Safety Tips for Apartment Renters
There are approximately 500,000 earthquakes worldwide each year. Your city could be next! Do you know what to do before and during an earthquake in an apartment? Be prepared for an earthquake with these safety tips for apartment renters, from your friends at ApartmentSearch!
How to Find a Handicap-Accessible Apartment
For people with disabilities, it can be hard to find an apartment with the proper handicap-accessible features. ApartmentSearch makes it easy.
How to Prevent Bed Bugs in Your Apartment
Bed bugs are best kept OUT of your apartment. Learn how to prevent bed bugs in your apartment and what to do if you believe you have an infestation.
New Apartment Security & Safety Checklist
Moving into a new apartment in a new city? When you're not familiar with your city, neighbors, or even the ins and outs of your apartment, things can get scary... fast. Don't let your fears get the best of you. Follow these tips to rest easy at night knowing you're safe and sound in your apartment.
Tips for Apartment Emergency Preparedness
Stay safe in your apartment during an emergency with these tips for being prepared from ApartmentSearch.
What to Do If You’re Trapped in an Elevator
Getting trapped in an elevator may sound like a nightmare, but you’ll be fine if you take the proper steps. Here’s what to do, from ApartmentSearch.
What to Do If You're in Your Apartment During a Tornado
Tornadoes can be devastating and dangerous.. Know what to do if you’re in your apartment during a tornado, with this guide from ApartmentSearch.